This year, we’re continuing to celebrate the people who make #OurResilience possible and telling the stories of some of our incredible clients, staff, volunteers, and supporters. It is more important now than ever to embrace and celebrate what connects us: our resilience. This month, we’re proudly shining a spotlight on our President of Resilience’s Board of Directors.
Continue to read our interview with Tom.
I got involved with Resilience when I was relocating from Kansas City to Chicago. I was interested in volunteering for an organization like Resilience and being on the board at some point hopefully. I was on the board of a similar organization in Kansas City called MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault). One of the staff members at MOCSA had actually worked for Resilience at one point. She made an introduction to the Executive Director at that point and I met with the board president and with the Executive Director and after a few months they convinced me that they could use my help and if I was willing to join the board I could do so.
What drew you to take on the role of President of the Board of Directors?
I wanted to continue to help the organization and provide back some of my experience hopefully in a different way besides just being a board member and a committee chair for the finance committee for a number of years. I saw predecessors that were phenomenal in the Board President role and I learned a lot from them. I thought it was a role where I could contribute and make a difference and I also wanted to leave behind a little bit more of a legacy. I saw it as a good way to fulfill some of what I saw as opportunities for the organization to advance the mission but also to hopefully build upon those who came before me and make the role as impactful as possible.
As the President of the Resilience Board of Directors, tell me a bit about what the board does.
The board has a variety of responsibilities: fiduciary, operational, some aspects of operational efficiency, but also just bringing some independence and making sure the organization is fulfilling its mission. The board is meant to be representative of people we serve in the community so part of the board’s function is to bring diversity to the table and serve as an advisor to the Executive Director but also to other members of staff.
How does your career connect with or overlap with the work you do as Resilience’s Board President?
I’m fortunate enough to have a position with Protiviti that enables me to support and help a number of people with my role as the Chicago office leader. I know that each person has their own challenges, their own life stories and those stories are filled with a lot of successes, but they also have some really impactful challenges. I see my role as being able to hopefully allow them to learn more about an organization like Resilience and be aware of how it can fulfilland help those in need both as survivors but also from an education perspective. Through my role in supporting community efforts, I am also raising awareness of an organization like Resilience with other companies in the area so that their personnel can leverage the services as may be needed.
What is something you are proud to have accomplished in your time as Resilience Board President?
Some of the proudest aspects are the personal relationships that I’ve formed with staff and working closely with Erin as a board member, and as the President for the last couple of years. I think we’ve also continued to put the organization on strong financial footing and foundation including having the long term investment portfolio which is something that we didn’t have. I think that allows the organization to do some really interesting things in the future. I think we’ve also gained access to a variety of different supporters, both financially and with time commitment and allowed them to hopefully contribute in different ways to the organization. I’d also say technology. My embracing of and passion for how technology can support the organization hopefully leaves the organization in a better spot but also realizing how it needs to continue to evolve to fit the needs of the organization. I think one of the proudest moments might just be how the board and staff have all worked together the last year during this global pandemic. We’ve navigated uncharted territory and yet we’ve been able to fulfil the mission of the organization and serve those in need in very trying times.
What were some of the greatest challenges you went through as a Board member and Board President during the pandemic?
Just knowing that everybody had their own individual stress points, emotional points, and their own living situations. Knowing that we couldn’t just say, “hey, here’s a solution for everybody” and just recognizing that we needed to have support for individuals and not make anybody feel pressured. Knowing that there were survivors that needed our service that probably weren’t getting access to our services because of the inability to come into the office or get to a hospital. Also just knowing there are new survivors during this very challenging time where people were at home, that they were facing potential sexual violence without access to necessary support.. So those are the things that I think weigh heavily. And much lighter is just not being able to meet together as a board, not being able to come visit staff. What our staff and volunteers do is so emotional and personally challenging each and every day. Doing that in a way where you don’t have a support system around you on a daily basis to help you, or just to have somebody you run into in the hallway to have a conversation with maybe after you have a very challenging therapy session or another situation that’s just difficult.
What was the biggest takeaway from your time as a Resilience Board Member and President?
My biggest takeaway is that the mission and cause is one that supporters and those that fulfill the mission on a daily basis in helping survivors, is passion driven. Whether it’s time or financial commitment, lifelong, long time supporters. I think what made an impact on me is that the pain is always there for survivors, that it never goes away. I think realizing and continuing to see individuals that were many years removed from the situation or event, still realizing that they could be triggered by something that could be quite random and how that impacted them. That to me is a lasting memory. The other thing I’ll say is that going through the 60-hour training course I completed was one of the most memorable things but also impactful. Our job is never going to be done. I hope that we can continue to influence sexual violence in a proactive way through training and awareness.
What is your hope for the future of Resilience as you step down from your role?
My hope is that we actually might see the numbers go down over time through the training, through awareness building, through legislation, and continued partnerships that we can form in the Chicago area and even more broadly, nationwide. I also hope that the organization can continue to find unique and innovative ways to serve those in need and that we can broaden our offerings throughout the Chicagoland area, which will take time and volunteers to do.
What do you want people to know that you haven’t been asked about?
I don’t think anybody has asked me ever if I’m a survivor, which I’m not. I think that for anyone that isn’t a survivor, we can never directly relate to what a survivor has been through. We are here to help and we want to help as anybody would that’s not a survivor because we believe in the cause and the mission so much.